William Newton CAPPER – Land Agent at Erddig

Erddig Hall Wrexham

by Jill Burton.

William Newton Capper was born in 1862 in Nantwich, Cheshire son of Thomas Capper, an auctioneer and valuer.

In 1881 his father’s business was in Northwich, Cheshire where William was working for him as a clerk. 

In 1889 William married Clara Fletcher Hurst b 1862

They had 4 Children –  Eric Hurst Capper b 1890

                                      Doris Mary b 1892

                                      Alicia Newton b 1893

                                      Donald William b 1895  

The household usually also included a servant girl

On the 1891 census William is listed as an Auctioneer and Valuer

living at 134 Chester Road, Hartford (on the outskirts of Northwich)

The first 2 children were born in Northwich, but the 3rd & 4th child were born in Bakersfield, California so between 1893 and the late 1890s the family must have been in the USA. Bakersfield is known for its cattle auctions/stockyards. Capper must have made money as on his return he set up as Auctioneer and Valuer in Wrexham, the family living in large houses in fashionable areas of Victorian/Edwardian Wrexham.

On the 1901 census he was “Auctioneer and Valuer” living at ‘Ashgrove’ 18 Grosvenor Road, Wrexham – an area of large Victorian semi-detached villas.

In about 1904 Mr. Capper was appointed as Agent to the Erddig estate, replacing William Hughes. A 1907 letter from Erddig Head Housemaid Tillie Boulter to Mrs Yorke reported on the progress of the putting up of the metal ceiling in the Saloon 

2nd June “The men of course make a lot more work. I think you will like the ceilings of course, they have screwed the steel on and I think when it is finished (which will take time yet) will look nice. Mr Capper is often up so he can see how we are getting on, and he knows there is a great deal to do.”

29 June “Mr Capper was here this morning – he has got the blinds for the gallery and I have mended those that needed a little repairing until you get new ones. Mrs Penketh and Mr Wootton write to you about their part of their duties.”

On September 9th 1907 Mr Capper and Mrs Yorke interviewed the Erddig Housekeeper Ellen Penketh about bills that were unpaid, and accused her of stealing money from the cheques that every month she was sent to the bank to cash. Miss Penketh was charged with theft and appeared at Wrexham Magistrates Court and the Ruthin Assizes, at both Mr Capper appearing as witness for the Prosecution.  It was stated in court that Mr Capper was not in charge of the Erddig household accounts in order to save the Yorke’s money, and they had therefore been given to Miss Penketh to keep. By the date of the trial in December the accounts had been returned for Mr Capper to do. The account of the trial also said that Mr Capper had been spreading untrue rumours about Miss Penketh being in a “certain condition”. Miss Penketh was found ‘Not Guilty’.

In 1908 Mr. Yorke refers to him as “the Agent to the Estate” in a letter to the local newspaper saying how Mr. Capper had directed the moving of the Davies gates from Stansty to Erddig.

In 1910 there are 2 mentions of him in the London Gazette with reference to him being appointed as auctioneer by the Court of Chancery in the sale of bankrupt farms near Wrexham.

On the 1911 census he was “Auctioneer, Valuer and Land Agent” working ‘on own account’ living at ‘Homedene’, Chester Road, Wrexham – a large detached Victorian house.

In June 1911 George Aitkens Head Gardener, wrote to Philip Yorke who was abroad, resigning his position –

“Mr. Capper having informed me that he has a gardener in hand [i.e. one too many], I am making way for him, as perhaps it may help him to get a better idea of things before you return. – – – – I trust you will speedily regain your fortunes to the extent of enabling you to keep your place together, for it seems indeed a pity to see these “links” with the historical past, breaking one by one: one by some reason, one by another.

I am most respectfully Yours Geo. Aitkens”

Mr. Capper himself was not to last much longer at Erddig.

Williams Gittins, Erddig Estate Foreman (with the help of his brother Edward) was appointed Erddig agent in 1912. This was probably done to save the Yorke’s money.

By 1916 the Capper family were living at “Hurst Newton”, Bersham Road, Wrexham, possibly built by William as it is named after his middle name and his wife’s maiden name.

Their youngest son Donald, a clerk at National Provincial Bank, Rhyl, was killed in action in 1916 in WWI and is buried in a war grave in Belgium. He is remembered on Rhyl War Memorial and on Minera War Memorial.

By 1927 William Capper was living at “Corrie”, Chester Road, Wrexham where he died age 64. He was buried in Wrexham Cemetery on 20th Jan 1927, Grave No. 01240.

Servants Details

Christian Name(s) ……William Newton…………..

Surname                  … Capper.…………………..

Date of Birth        ……1862 in Nantwich………………..

Date of Death     ………1927….………………………..

Job(s) at Erddig  ………Land Agent.…………….…………..

Start Date            ………c 1905 or before…………………….

Finish Date          ………1912.……………………………

Reason for leaving? ……Replaced by William Gittins

Researched by Jill Burton. Grave ref: E-01240

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